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McCall Arts and Humanities Council

McCall Arts and Humanities Council

In 2019, 334 students from the rural districts of McCall, Donnelly, and New Meadows participated in the McCall Arts and Humanities Council’s Art School program. Fifth graders worked with Fine Arts under the tutelage of artists Melissa Hamilton (jewelry), Valerie Harris (acrylic painting), Suzanne Fluty & Angela Niewert (ceramics), and Lindsay Garrod (lettering) who visited their classrooms throughout the winter and spring. Fourth graders participated in the Heritage Arts component of the program, learning to write their own folk songs with Gary Eller, preparing herbal preparations with Christine Hulse, and engaging in a traditional square dance at the barn in historic Roseberry with caller Ava Honey and her band. Third graders explored Performing Arts during a 2-day intensive in McCall featuring learning stations facilitated by artists Katrina Rude (set design & masks in storytelling), Erin Lowen (storytelling with dance), Maggie Crawford (storytelling with costumes & props), and Dawn Kolden (storytelling with body movement).

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

each grade had a different question – see below

5th Grade: “How can art skills help me express myself?”

“I used tools to shape my clay, make it smooth, and to press in shaped paper to make texture.”

“When I made a ring, I used symmetry to make it even.”

“I used my knowledge of what is too flashy and what is casual to create a piece with my personality in it.”

“In my painting, I used negative space to create shadow.”

4th Grade: “How can heritage arts help connect me to where I live?”

Student Folksong: “We love to hike around a mountain and pick the huckleberries, We love to fish and catch a lot of trout around the lake, We like the waterfalls and how they roar, And they have secret caves, too.”

Student Folksong: “We swim in the beautiful water, and ski down the mountain slopes. We go camping for the rodeo and go fishing in the Salmon River. We go hiking in the mountains.”

3rd Grade: “How can I use my body to tell a story?”

Costumes and props helped me become a character by . . . “helping me talk out loud when I felt like I was someone else.”

In dance, I express myself by . . . “moving my feet and being sassy and it is very satisfying.”

I can communicate without words by . . . “using action and dynamic poses.”

Sets and props help me tell a story on stage by . . . “showing the mood I am in and what time of year and day it is.”

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

During the 2019 Art School program, fifth-grade students worked with professional fine artists throughout the winter and spring to learn specific technical skills to allow them to become better artists and to better-communicate visually. Through these lessons, the following Anchor Standards were met, as noted under Grade 5 program focus Visual Arts:
Anchor Standard 2, Creating: organize and develop artistic ideas and work
Anchor Standard 3, Creating: refine and complete artistic work

Fourth-grade students worked with heritage artists to learn heritage arts such as the history of folk songs and how to write one, the history of herbal arts and how to make salve, and the art of traditional square dancing in a local Finnish barn with a live band and caller. Under the Dance Category for Grade 4, lessons met Anchor Standard 11, Connecting: relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding. Under Interdisciplinary Arts & Humanities for Grade 4, Anchor Standard 3 was met – Creating: create original works or unique interpretations that demonstrate knowledge of themes, issues, and/or movements that express the human experience.

Third-grade students worked with professional performing artists during a 2-day learning intensive to learn how to tell a story through movement, gesture, facial expression, and using props & costumes. Under the Performing Arts category for Grade 3, lessons met Anchor Standard 6, Performing: convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.


Through student surveys, photos, teacher feedback, student work, performances, and artist feedback, we confirmed that we successfully met our educational objectives. More importantly, perhaps, is that students had so much fun with art and were therefore inspired to do more. Participating Art School students gained confidence in themselves as creators; an appreciation for uniqueness and diversity was fostered; art was “demystified” and made accessible; students gained specific skills; students learned how to effectively and creatively communicate non-verbally; students were able to work on projects that were open-ended rather than prescriptive. Additionally, benefits of the program included the relationships built among working artists and the schools, classroom teachers and artists, students and artists, and the community and our students.


The 2019 Art School program was overwhelmingly beneficial. Each of our artists presented the students with lessons that were age-appropriate, skill-building, fun, and inspirational. The program was well-organized and this helped us to create a very smooth and positive learning experience for the students. It was beneficial for us – the adult teaching team – to meet several times before and throughout the program to discuss ideas, concerns, overlap, consistency of vocabulary, and cohesiveness. Working closely with classroom teachers while planning also helped us to be able to tie specific projects into the curricula whenever possible for cross-disciplinary learning. Keeping things simple and having specific goals (learning objectives) really helps to provide students with a few solid art building blocks that they will be able to apply outside of school as well as within the classroom. Our elementary schools are all experiencing consistent growth, so each year we are serving more students. This growth will present both opportunity and challenge in the years to come.